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Did you know … it can cost up to £30,000 to recruit a new member of staff in the UK, including the cost of loss recruiting and training a new employee and the loss of productivity while a replacement employee gets up to speed? It is believed that employees with disabilities will stay with you longer than most, helping you to reduce your recruitment costs.

In business, the cost of recruitment can be a huge burden on your budget. Smart companies know that it pays to retain knowledge and cut back on staff churn. Apart from anything else, finding the right talent is challenging and nobody wants to lose valued members of staff who could be supported.

In general, people with disabilities tend to stay in jobs for longer. Keeping a disabled person in their role could also result in cost benefits of up to 2.5 times the investment required. Remember – every member of your staff could develop a disability, so it pays to be informed about best practice.

When you’re looking at the best ways to keep any members of your team who have any sort of disability, there are a number of issues that you need to consider:

Physical Disabilities

Your business needs to provide for employees with disabilities, so they don’t have obstacles in their way. For someone with a visual impairment, this may mean covering extra transport costs or ensuring company memos are provided in appropriate formats. Some staff may need support for day-to-day activities and it’s important that you consider this in the budget you allocate to running your business.

Training other staff can also be a very good way of helping people with physical or mental disabilities at work. If their colleagues can support them with mobility and bear their needs in mind, it can ensure a more welcoming and informed approach throughout the whole business.

Mental Health Conditions

The Mental Health Foundation says that 1 in 4 people struggle with mental health conditions each year. Sometimes, the pressure of work can aggravate anxiety conditions and stress can exacerbate depression. If any members of your staff are struggling to cope, they may have to eventually leave their job to regain control.

A supportive environment is essential and provision for mental health support should be part of your company culture. Team leaders need to be encouraged to look for the signs of mental health and respond proactively if a staff member approaches them for help. Even something small, like a different shift pattern, can be enough to lighten the load. That’s why you could support the move towards agile working patterns, which often involve allowing employees to work from home. Some creative employers allow their people to bring their dogs to work from time to time, which can be a great stress buster, if it’s appropriate in your workplace.

Focusing on Your People

Every member of your staff is an individual with individual needs and those needs may change over time. People with disabilities have the ability to work as productively as anyone else and should always be provided with the tools they need to do so.

When people with disabilities are properly supported, studies show that they are the most committed, punctual and dedicated staff in the entire workforce. The Leonard Cheshire Disability Employers Survey, carried out in 2018, asked some interesting questions and below are some of the results:

Q: When deciding whether or not to employ someone, in what way, if at all, would a declared disability impact your choice?

  • Much less likely to employ: 8%
  • Slightly less likely to employ: 16%

 Q: To what extent, if at all, do you find each of these factors to be a major barrier to employing disabled people?

  • The practicalities of making workplace adjustment: 21%
  • The cost of making workplace adjustments: 22%

Q: Which of the following reasons, if any, would affect your decision to employ someone with a declared disability?

  • I would be concerned they will struggle to do the job: 33%
  • It would be an additional cost to the organisation: 22%
  • I would be concerned they would be off work more often than those without a disability: 19%
  • They may not be as productive as non-disabled employees: 18%
  • Managers and supervisors don’t know how to support disabled people: 10%
  • They won’t fit in with the organisation: 6%

Q: Which of the following benefits do you currently offer at your organisation, and/or would you like to offer in the future?

  • Part-time working hours: 56%
  • Flexible working hours (e.g. different start times, shorter hours): 53%
  • Time off work to attend disability-related medical appointments/treatment: 50%
  • Flexible role duties that take into account the disability (e.g. no late nights, long-distance travel or physically intensive work): 38%
  • Additional breaks during the working day: 37%

Remember also that legally, your business cannot discriminate against a disabled person and employers must make reasonable adjustments in the workplace so they can do their job. The law applies to any person who has a physical or mental impairment, regardless of whether it’s invisible or visible, as long as it has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities.

It’s up to you to put measures in place so that your workplace is welcoming and supportive. If you need any help with putting the right measures in place, do get in touch and I can give you some advice on how best to do it.


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